I am going to say something that will elicit very few tears from anyone who reads this blog.
Blogging can be hard.
No one makes me do this. I do it because I like it. Maybe it accomplishes a purpose for some people who read it and if it does, that makes the blog even better.
Now you might think I will list the usual blogger’s laments: it is hard coming up with ideas, sometimes I don’t feel like writing, it is too much pressure to post every day or so, the commitment is killing me.
Those are not problems for me.
Here it is…
Mark Labberton’s book is hard. In the past I have written on books that have positive passages and ideas that are not challenging all the time, but Labberton’s book is a cold, hard look at our failings as Christians. Blogging on Labberton’s book is hard.
Every page screams out “why are you not doing more to help people who have less than you! You know you should as Christians; the Bible tells us to help the poor. Get to work!”
I will be the first to admit that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, but those sins are sometimes personal and they don’t involve others. The sin of omission is a problem but it can be committed in a way that only impacts the sinner. However, the sin of omission is very evident regarding our help for the poor. In this, we are failing to recognize those around us who are in need and of course if we don’t see them, we are certainly not helping them. We are failing to act. We are omitting something from our behavior that Labberton feels should happen.
My wife is constantly teasing me about my goal-oriented nature. She knows how testy I can get if I have hours and days where I get nothing done. Too often my concerns are personal: I need to get a bedroom painted, I need to rake the back yard, I need to bake a favorite apple pie. Sadly, I don’t have on my list I need to help the poor. I feel bad that I don’t have goals that involve other people.
When I expressed this idea to a friend the other day, the friend tried to console me. She said “some of us just don’t have gifts for helping the poor. Maybe you just don’t have what it takes to aid those less fortunate.” Their words were a good effort but I did not believe them. I know I can do more. They were a “cop out.”
Part two of Labberton’s book is about learning to see and a major part of it is dedicated to how we see ourselves. As I have written in the past, I have always been fascinated by how we come to be the people we are, but when I discuss the self-concept, self-esteem and self-image, I usually think of these ideas in general terms, not how they impact my ability to help others.
Labberton zeros in on how these ideas relate to those in need and how these ideas relate to those who can help those in need—in a word, me.
Ok, maybe the whining needs to come to an end.
I need to recall why I decided to write about this book, this author. This book discussion is dedicated to a friend who died recently, a friend who dedicated his life to helping the poor. He inspired me to write about this book. I watched him spend his time, energy and money to help those less fortunate. I took phone calls from him as he explained the plight of those less fortunate. This person who did not have a bed. This single mother who could not feed her two children. The local homeless mission center that was in desperate need of cleaning supplies; they had nothing to clean it with. The family of four who were so poor that they had no toilet paper. One morning he called to tell me that several families just needed breakfast food, boxes of cereal and milk so they could start their day with something in their stomachs.
I knew he felt a lot of empathy for the poor, but I watched him from a distance. At times, the thought went through my brain that he was a bit crazy in his advocacy for the poor.
Now I am complaining that blogging is hard because the book I am blogging on is hard to write about, the subject is difficult to discuss and I wonder how popular the discussions are. I worry that readers will not want to be confronted with how they need to help the poor?
Then I think about John. Over all the years I knew him, he had his struggles. We all struggle, but I never once heard him say I am too tired to help those who have less than I do.
He could have.